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November 1, 2008Inside the Coliseum Saturday, things were pretty cut and dry.
The USC offense could do very little wrong, running and passing its way into the end zone at will.
The Trojan defense did its usual shtick, barely giving up an inch, forcing three-and-outs and turnovers essentially whenever it was on the field.
But USC's 56-0 win over Washington might say more about the relative lack of strength in the Pac-10 than it does about USC's dominance.
""It's surprising the Pac-10's like this," defensive end Kyle Moore said. "We can't do anything but keep winning."
The weakness at the bottom of the conference is too obvious to ignore, but USC still had to execute, which the Trojans did.
"They were 0-7, but we still had to be pretty good not to let up any points," Moore said. "We were supposed to win this big. We should never play down to a team's level. We're supposed to play like this against a winless team."
And against the worst teams in the league, USC has done just that.
In games against Washington (0-8, 0-5 Pac-10) and Washington State, USC (7-1, ,5-1) has outscored the Apple State's teams 125-0.
"We know we can't overlook these teams," linebacker Brian Cushing said. "We have to still play smart on defense. We have to still execute, and we have to keep pressing.
"We're just trying to put up as many points as we can on offense and not let up any defense. Tonight, we did that."
From the opening kick, USC looked like it was prepared to destroy the Huskies. The defense forced Washington to punt after gaining just two yards, and the Trojan offense marched down the field and scored with ease.
Then, it happened again. And again. And again.
USC head coach Pete Carroll said he was pleased with his team's determination and merciless approach at the start of the game against a team with inferior weapons.
"I was really proud of how our preparation is carrying over to the field in terms of our energy and intensity regardless of who we're playing," Carroll said. "That's really important for us. That means we're learning the philosophy and the right approach."
The Trojans racked up 41 points in the first half, gaining 325 yards of total offense.
"Obviously, we played a good team," Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham said. "Especially in the first half, their offense kept a lot of pressure on us and our offense could not get things started."
Wide receiver Patrick Turner out-gained Washington with 100 yards receiving to just 35 yards of total offense for the Huskies in the first half.
In fact, C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson each rushed for more yards than the Huskies were able to gain in the first half.
Gable led USC with 108 yards on 10 carries to go along with his two scores.
Turner caught both of Sanchez's touchdown passes in the first half, Gable scored twice and Johnson rushed for a score in the one-sided drubbing.
Sanchez finished the game 15-of-19 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns, giving way to Mitch Mustain very early in the third quarter.
"I thought Mark was really sharp today," Carroll said. "Mark's a really, really good football player on the verge of becoming great."
After turning to their reserves in the second half, the Trojan offense didn't let up. After a big 50-yard run from Gable, Marc Tyler and Broderick Green helped USC score, with six points coming on Green's five-yard run.
Tyler would add another score with a fantastic second effort from six-yards out in the fourth quarter.
In the midst of USC's dominance were a lot of yellow flags, though. USC got penalized 10 times for 90 yards.
"It was a really sharp, good football day for us except for the penalty situation," Carroll said. "We need to continue dealing with it. It's going to be a problem for us sometime, so we need to eliminate it."
Still, despite the flags, USC was turnover free while forcing three of its own - including a late Chris Galippo interception and a Drew McAllister pick that helped preserve the shutout.
The Trojans remain at home next weekend, with Cal heading south to face USC and defense that's allowed only 10 points in its last four games.
"We've had a good push here for a few weeks," Carroll said. "Now, we need to keep it rolling."
But if USC has aspirations beyond another conference championship and trip to the Rose Bowl, a lot has to happen.
"At this point, what we need to do is whatever people expect us to do," defensive tackle Fili Moala said. "If we're expected to beat a team by 70, we need to beat them by 70. That's the best approach we can have.
"All we can do is take care of what's on our end, but it looks like we're going to need some help."